I met Judy in early November. I happened to sit down next to her at Teance, when she was just about to leave and I had just arrived. For some reason, Judy offered me a small, homemade cookie to try. The cookie was interesting, and so is Judy. We exchanged business cards.
With this post, I’m going to risk sounding like a sarong-wearing 62-year-old white-male yoga preacher [there are many of them in Berkeley, sometimes they start talking to you on the street and make everybody uncomfortable], because you know what, some philosophies are beautiful and there’s nothing wrong with appreciating them. With that said, if your patience runs low on the subjects of philosophy, spiritual growth or simply good feelings in general, skip ahead to Part II.
Part I – The Story behind the Treats
After September 11, 2001, Judy Fleischman moved from Oregon to New York, began training as a healthcare chaplain.
“I was on the go a lot,” said Judy. “I needed to bring food with me so that I wouldn’t go broke. In Oregon I got introduced to raw foods, so I started experimenting with making raw healthy snacks to keep me going… Snacks that weren’t just a sugar crash.”
After making batches of these raw, vegan treats with sprouted seeds for herself, she began sharing them with family and friends and began to feel what she called “the gift of giving”.
“Now when I think of the word ‘healthy’, it’s not just the food but the relationship with the people and the ingredients,” Judy said.
Judy’s inspiration stemmed from wagashi – petite, graceful Japanese sweets for tea ceremony that appeal to all five senses, and the philosophy of “mindful eating” in zen training, which she explains as knowing “the difference between a craving and real nourishment”.(*)
In the midst of working as a healthcare chaplain and interacting with stressed people, Judy felt that the treats she made were “wholesome”, and that she “had the urge to share and give to others”, so she started making single packagings to give them out to people at farmers’ markets. As part of the Sensing Wonder group, she was also giving out cups of iced jasmine tea at the Imagine Circle. The more she gave, the more fulfilling she felt.
Loving Live Treats “sprouted from this personal transformation and interaction with the community” to become what Judy hopes to be a mean to sustain her livelihood. Economically, we all need to make a living; spiritually, Judy appreciates and finds it enriching to be able to share what she makes with others – a way of life that she wants to pursue and believes that many others do. That’s why the cookies are wrapped in packages of three – one can surprisingly satiate your hunger (I was amazed myself, considering each is only 0.6 oz [about 17 grams]!), and there are two more to share with friends.
Or share with strangers. Over a month ago, Judy randomly shared it with me, a complete stranger. Somehow, we create new friendships that way, however temporary. Loving Live Treats from start to finish revolves around friendship, whether it was momentarily like the interaction with people at the Imagine Circle, or long-term like with Rodney Alan Greenblat, the artist who designed the label. Perhaps partly because it revolves around friendship, that Judy is happy when she makes them. That happiness shows in the treats, from the playful, childlike label inwards.
Sprouted sunflower and golden flax seeds, coconut, agave nectar, Himalayan salt, low-temperature dehydrated and compressed into circular cubes (if you know a better word for this shape – not “cylinder”!, please tell me ^_^). There are three different flavors: lemon-vanilla-nutmeg, spirulina-vanilla, and cacao-cardamom. My personal favorites are the Coco Cardamom and the Spirulina (sorry, Nutmeg!), but they’re all precious actually, and the differences are about as pronounced as those between Chinese oolongs and Taiwanese oolongs. That’s the point – nothing too sweet, nothing too strong, just little seeds cozily nudged together. Satisfying on their own and a delicate but reassuring accompaniment to tea.
They’re the opposite of a chocolate chip cookie, which gives you instant satisfaction and an even bigger craving five seconds later. Recently, I watched this Japanese movie “I Wish” by director Hirokazu Koreeda (the Japanese title is Kiseki (奇跡)**), there’s a small detail that I can’t forget: the boys’ grandfather made karukan (a sweet rice-flour sponge cake), at first the older brother thought it wasn’t sweet enough, but Grandfather wouldn’t change his way. Near the end of the movie, the older brother gave a piece to his younger brother. The younger boy also found it “mellow”, i.e., a little bland. Afterwards, when the grandfather asked the older brother what his younger brother thought of the karukan, he smiled and replied “he’s still young”.
When I have an ice cream craving, and I have it ALL the time, admittedly I don’t always reach for an LLT Lemonilla Nutmeg. Like the younger brother in Kiseki, I’m still wet behind the ears when it comes to appreciating the finer things. But when I do reach for an LLT, I get surprised every time – it gratifies in the most pleasant way possible.
Loving Live Treats by Judy Fleischman: can be ordered for home delivery from GratefulGreens.com, found at the monthly Bay Area Homemade Market, and soon to be served at Teance and Asha Tea House (Berkeley).
(*) According to the philosophy of mindful eating, there are six types of hunger – eye hunger, mouth hunger, nose hunger, stomach hunger, cellular hunger mind hunger and heart hunger. My guess is to satisfy a craving means you satisfy only one type of hunger, whereas real nourishment satisfies all six.
(**) For now, you can watch Kiseki here. You know how after watching some movie, someone would ask “did you like it?”, and all you can honestly say is “hmmm…”? Well, Kiseki is that kind of movie. It’s not loaded with laughters or gunshots or flying dragons or tear-jerking moments, but let it sit for a few days and the sweetness slowly steeps throughout your veins. Like the grandfather’s mellow karukan.